Choosing the Perfect First Communion Dress
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First Holy Communion is a beautiful, memorable and joyous occasion. It is a celebration highlighting the Holy Eucharist and transitioning from a child to a full participant in the Church. An important part of this occasion, in addition to preparing spiritually, getting ready for the Church ceremony, and the celebrations afterward, is finding the perfect communion dress that fits your little girl’s personality, and symbolizes her pure connection with GOD .
Buying a First Communion Dress has become more manageable than in the past. There are more size ranges, dresses for plus size girls, and a more extensive choice of styles. There are an increased number of stores to choose from as well as online retailers. Here is a detailed list of tips to assist in shopping for a communion dress:
First of all, DO NOT wait until the last minute! Since most Communions are in April and May, the Communion shopping season starts in early January, and goes through April. However, waiting is the biggest mistake that most people make. What individuals do not realize, is that many of these dresses are made to order. Shopping early in the Communion shopping season (January and February are highly recommended), will ensure that you will be able to choose from any dress of your liking, and have plenty of time to have any necessary alterations done before the Communion date, without having to stress about getting the dress ready in time. If you do wait until the last minute to shop for your communion dress, you will still be able to find a dress; you will just have a much smaller selection and be relying on a lot of luck that the dress of your choosing will be in stock.
Second, SIZING. Communion Dresses do not have the same sizing as girls clothing. It is very important to take the correct measurements and match your little girl up with the correct size dress. Only three measurements are needed to find the correct size Communion Dress- the bust measurement, waist measurement, and length measurement.
To get the correct bust measurement, use a tape measure and wrap it around the child’s body under the armpits at the widest part of their chest. Keep the tape measure loose, and write down the measurement.
To get the correct waist measurement, wrap the tape measure around the child’s mid section, right above the belly button. Keep the tape measure loose and write down the measurement.
To get the correct length measurement, it should be taken from the top of the shoulder down to where you would like the dress to fall. This is known as a “hollow to hem” measurement. Most churches require “Tea Length”, which is down below the knee, usually to the bottom of the calf or top of the ankle, but not to the floor.
Third, STYLE. Every year, manufacturers come out with new, beautiful Communion styles. Some styles are timeless, popular year after year; while others change with the times, and will be brand new contemporary styles that take your breath away. The style that you choose will depend on your individual taste. Some people prefer a simply-designed more traditional dress, while others may want a more modern and elaborate dress. This can be because of ethnicity and family customs, or just personal preference. Most Communion Dresses are made in either satin, taffeta, or silk, with varying amounts of tulle, organza, lace, bead work, and appliqués.
Keep in mind, there are rules when buying a Communion Dress. The most important rule that applies to all Churches is that your Communion Dress must be white. Silk (this is never bright or pure white, but usually a diamond white), is acceptable. Many Churches have different rules in regard to sleeves and length of the dress. Despite the fact that most Communion Dresses are sleeveless, some churches require shoulders to be covered during the ceremony. In this case, most girls either buy a dress with sleeves, or more likely, purchase a jacket, shawl, or caplet to wear with the dress. As far as length, all Churches require that the dress fall below the knee, but how far down varies in some churches. Most Churches just require “Tea Length”, which is between the lower calf and top of the ankle. In most cases, as long as the dress does not cover the shoe, and is at least as low as the calf, it is considered acceptable. For the specific requirements, it is recommended that you require within your individual Church or Parish.
If your little girl is plus size, many manufacturers offer dresses in what the industry refers to as “Half” or “Plus” sizes. These are wider cut dresses that are usually designed specifically for girls that may be slightly, or even significantly overweight. The availability of these dresses is somewhat harder to come by, so we recommend shopping as early as possible if you fall into this category.
The fourth factor in choosing your Communion Dress is of course, your BUDGET. A Communion Dress can sell for prices ranging from under $100 to well over $500 for a Couture Communion Dress. Knowing what your budget is is important. A more expensive dress does not necessarily correlate to a better dress for your taste. The main factors that come into play with the price of a dress are the quality of fabric (for example, silk is a much higher quality and more expensive fabric when compared to satin or taffeta), quality of materials, bead work, embroideries, and of course, craftsmanship. Although price should not solely drive a decision on a Communion Dress, it is recommended to avoid dresses that the price seems excessively low. This is only because these dresses tend to be of significantly lesser quality and tend not to make it through the occasion. To some degree, you do get what you pay for.
Sweetie Pie Collection is a highly recommended Communion Dress designer. If you have any doubts, we recommend going to their website and using their “Store Locator” to find a local store in your area.
Hopefully, these tips will assist you in making the best possible decision when choosing a First Holy Communion Dress. The goal here is to help give you a stress-free shopping experience so that you can truly enjoy your First Communion celebration.